Should I get rid of my puppy?
June 27, 2022 9:50 AM   Subscribe

I adopted a puppy 1.5 months ago who is now 5 months old. I thought it would be okay with my landlady since my previous roommate had a dog and he moved out and she was okay with it. She just told me today that I need to have the puppy rehomed by Friday, it is Monday. I am thinking maybe I could move and keep her, or get her rehomed, but I feel really awful about that. I made a huge mistake I guess.

I am 29F and let me just start off by saying a big, huge idiot.

In January, my ex of 4.5 years, 3 years living together, moved out. He had a dog and two cats he took with him. I had two cats. My landlady knew all of this and approved it.

In May, my lease was up. I decided to stay, and the landlady never brought up another lease. I had thought and talked about getting a dog, and I missed my exes' amazing dog so much. I went to go adopt one, heavily encouraged, and like a screw up didn't check with my landlady, I should have, but I just assumed, that since we already had a dog before, it was okay, the landlady loves dogs.

I ended up being drawn to a certain puppy and took her home. I have had her 1.5 months now. I work from home and live alone in a duplex with two cats. She has been a lot of work and I severely underestimated the work of a puppy. I haven't actually taught her any new commands, I have tried time and time again, but she is just so hyper and doesn't listen or learn. It is very very hard to get her calm, and I have only figured out how to do it by rubbing her chest, but she won't do it otherwise. My patience with her is very thin... She constantly wants to jump, bounce around, they told me she was lab/retriever mix but I think she is Australian shepherd mostly.

I stupidly had her tied up in my yard and my landlady came by and freaked out. She took a day to think, after being extremely upset, and just told me today she wants her placed elsewhere by Friday.

I know I am an idiot, I totally thought I could handle a puppy, and I have tried. I don't know what to do and am extremely ashamed. My mom cannot watch a dog, she is not allowed pets, and my dad doesn't have a fenced in yard.

I have told everyone about this puppy. I am seeing a guy I reeeeally really like, since March, and I am scared when he finds out this situation he might look at me differently like I am an irresponsible adult and might not like me anymore. I do love this dog and want the best for her, but I think I should have adopted an older dog, I didn't know better and should have done more thinking and researching before buying myself a puppy.

I know it sounds terrible but I do wish I could go back and not have adopted her. I do love her. I thought about moving so I could keep her but I am having a really hard time training her and she is a lot to deal with while I try and work from home and keep my household running. She needs constant attention. I have also not been taking care of myself properly and have a lot of work to do on myself. I don't know what I was thinking. I didn't know the reality of having a puppy.

I know I am a terrible pet parent. My cats are amazing, maybe I am just not a dog or puppy person. I feel sick.
posted by anon1129 to Pets & Animals (27 answers total)
You live and learn. Spend the energy you're using to beat yourself up into finding a great home for the pup.
posted by cyndigo at 9:53 AM on June 27, 2022 [12 favorites]

Best answer: Look, the bottom line is that if you can't train the puppy, you need to rehome the puppy, for the puppy's own good. What everyone else thinks of you is secondary to that (and if people know dogs, they will know you're making the right decision.)

Here are my recommended steps:

1. Start looking to rehome the puppy, let your landlady know and show her your ads on Petfinder or whatever, and ask her to work with you on extending the timeframe so you can really take your time to find a good placement. An alternative is to contact a no-kill rescue.

2. Tell everyone that you are really sad, but that you had to rehome the dog for the dog's own benefit. This is 100% true.
posted by warriorqueen at 9:56 AM on June 27, 2022 [22 favorites]

It sounds like your dog needs a *lot* of exercise and attention. If you are willing to exercise her for multiple hours each day, and learn how to train her, then you can think about keeping her and moving. But if you aren’t able to do those things, that is okay, as long as you recognize her needs and find a home that will meet them. Don’t beat yourself up, do what you need to do so that she will be well care for.
posted by mai at 10:13 AM on June 27, 2022 [1 favorite]

Best answer: It is possible that you signed an agreement with the adoption agency that you would contact them if you need to rehome. Please check your paperwork, or just call your contact there. This may not be the case if it was a municipal shelter but you might still talk to wherever the dog came from before making some potentially poor decisions about the rehoming process. I'm trying to not be overly critical here, but you're not making great choices all along this timeline and I'm not sure you have the experience to choose a trustworthy safe home (that, among other things, would not tie a dog out) and I think you could use some help.

It's good that you've recognized you are in over your head and aren't the right person for this dog at this time. It happens, and it is better that you do something about it than not do anything about it.

Most people who are worth dating would lose interest if they found out the person had a poorly cared-for dog so this is not a situation you're going to win by keeping the dog.
posted by Lyn Never at 10:25 AM on June 27, 2022 [21 favorites]

Best answer: You are not a terrible person if you return this dog. It is young and will find a home. You are a not a terrible person for assuming a dog was fine because the previous dog was fine. You'll know better for next time!

However, it sounds like you're struggling with this puppy and it is too much for you. For one thing, it is not a good idea to tie a dog up. They can get tangled and choke themselves. Their water can get kicked out of reach. Just not a good idea. But that doesn't make you a terrible pet parent, either. You didn't know. Now you do.

Re-home this puppy. Don't beat yourself up too much. Later if you want to try another dog, maybe adopt an older dog, maybe one that is already trained.
posted by Glinn at 10:49 AM on June 27, 2022 [4 favorites]

Best answer: This happens with puppies! Check about rehoming, fosters, and no kill shelters. (Also unless you are dating Brandon McMillan your guy probably would not like dealing with a puppy that you don't have time to properly train, so don't worry about that.)
posted by kingdead at 10:51 AM on June 27, 2022 [1 favorite]

Best answer: The puppy probably needs a lot more exercise, training, and interaction; can you provide that?

How committed are you to the puppy? Are you able, and do you want to make a good home for this pup?

Having a dog tied up outside varies. My 1 yo pup was on the run in the backyard, declined to come in when I offered, so was happily outside for a couple hours, including some light rain. But every time I checked in, she was happy. A barking, miserable, tangled up in a rope dog would concern a person. Even my dog being happily outside might strike some as not okay.

Your question suggests you aren't able to give the pup what it needs. It's not about you being a good person; that's a massive distraction here, and an issue for a therapist. It's about having and committing the time and effort to a pet that requires it. Aus. Shepherds are terrific dogs; work with a rescue org or shelter to find the pup an energetic new owner.

If she asks, tell the landlady that you are working on re-homing the dog, that you had a reasonable expectation that a dog would be allowed, and that you will do it in the time frame required; hurrying is not going to work.

Realistically, you missed the ex-, and the ex-'s pets, a lot. Just take care of the re-homing process responsibly and move on.
posted by theora55 at 12:22 PM on June 27, 2022 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: I am not sure if I have the time for the puppy, I feel like I should since I don’t have kids and work from home. But realistically, it is very hard to get work done with her inside, which is why I tie her up outside for a few hours during the day… she whines in her crate during the day, and mostly just wants to play otherwise, trying to jump in my lap or chew on things. She was throwing her rope everywhere and even landing on my keyboard while I’m working, cute but it is impossible to focus on working during the day sometimes.

I love walking her but I know I don’t play with her or train her enough. When she plays she gets really hyper and constantly trying to bite. I am so lost on training as anything I try doesn’t seem to work at all. She isn’t like the calm puppies in the videos I watch. I was trying to teach her to shake and all she wanted to do was bite my hand.

I actually felt relief when my landlady said she had to go, which I feel bad about, I remember as a kid my mom got me two puppies two separate times for me and shortly after got rid of each of them and I was devastated but now I understand more. Though, she shouldn’t have gotten that second one.

I guess I am just selfishly worried about what others will think of me, which I shouldn’t. I now realize I made a poor decision and know better now, I loved my ex’s dog but severely underestimated the constant work that is raising a hyper puppy. I haven’t been going to the gym, my house is a wreck, I haven’t been playing my guitar, and I miss when it was just me and my chill cats and I could lay on the couch in peace. My cats also do not like her at all and I know they are stressed. I am an introvert and am not even really into children, also I struggle with my mental health, and this has just become mostly another stressor and she doesn’t deserve to be viewed that way.

I am going to work on rehoming her this week with high standards for a new owner. She is a beautiful and sweet puppy but truthfully I do not have what it takes at this time to raise her.
posted by anon1129 at 12:47 PM on June 27, 2022

Puppies have a lot of energy. It won't last forever, but so many behavioral problems can be solved just by getting the puppy dog out of the house and playing more. Without doing that, the dog will *CONSTANTLY* have too much energy. Tying them up will just make things worth for the both of you.

To give an idea of how much time we're talking about, when my dog was really young, we went to the dog park 30min twice a day; by the time he was 9mo old, that turned into once a day. He also gets to go on a meandering long walk in the morning.

When she plays she gets really hyper and constantly trying to bite.

She's a puppy. A smart puppy! So she can definitely learn this if you invest the time. That's kind of how things are with a puppy: there's an up front time investment, but the payoff is a wonderful relationship.

My cats also do not like her at all and I know they are stressed.

This might be a problem, unfortunately. Cats can be very fond of dogs, but it's not something they learn as adults. If they *do* get along with other dogs, they'll probably eventually warm to this puppy.

I am going to work on rehoming her this week with high standards for a new owner. She is a beautiful and sweet puppy but truthfully I do not have what it takes at this time to raise her.

That sounds like a humane and reasonable plan! You made a decision that you thought was reasonable (after all, you love dogs!) and now you've found out that things aren't the way you thought they were when you made the decision. This is something well adjusted adults do. And while it sounds like you could've communicated this better with the landlady, that's not worth beating yourself up about now, either. Do the next right thing.
posted by billjings at 1:09 PM on June 27, 2022 [3 favorites]

Best answer: definitely call the place you adopted her from. almost all places will take the animal back if it doesn't work out. you do usually lose your adoption fee, but returning her will be the best option for her. be honest about why you're returning her, so they can find her a better match with the next people. it's okay--i promise :)

edit: typo
posted by misanthropicsarah at 1:15 PM on June 27, 2022 [7 favorites]

Response by poster: To add, my cats got along well with my exes’ dog. That dog was only a few years old 2-5 while we lived together) but was amazingly calm and gentle and obedient and a people pleaser lol. They would cuddle up with her. Of course the puppy wants to play all the time so they swat at her and hiss, growl, and try to attack her while she tries to play. I don’t know if they will get along ever since she is so high energy of a dog. My exes dog was always calm.
posted by anon1129 at 1:19 PM on June 27, 2022

poster:To add, my cats got along well with my exes’ dog. That dog was only a few years old 2-5 while we lived together) but was amazingly calm and gentle and obedient and a people pleaser lol. They would cuddle up with her. Of course the puppy wants to play all the time so they swat at her and hiss, growl, and try to attack her while she tries to play. I don’t know if they will get along ever since she is so high energy of a dog. My exes dog was always calm.

This isn't necessarily a bad sign.

I got a cat when my dog was about 10 years old; Chauncey (a miniature dachshund) had never dealt with a cat before, but I was told that Tiger LOVED dogs.

When introduced Tiger, though... that didn't look true. Chauncey was OBSESSED with Tiger and constantly tried to hassle him. Tiger hissed and fled; he hid behind the dryer, and didn't leave the laundry room for a week.

Slowly, though, he started venturing out. He was quick to swat Chauncey, but each day he'd venture out more and more, until eventually he had the run of the place.

Fast forward a few months, and they are seriously besties. Chauncey and Tiger would spend all day curled up in the bed together.

So: if your cats are comfortable around dogs, they probably will eventually learn to get along. Once the cats figure out where their safe spaces are and train the dogs, things will probably get better.

This problem, like almost all puppy behavioral problems, will improve a lot if the puppy gets in a lot of play time and a good long walk every day.
posted by billjings at 1:35 PM on June 27, 2022

Response by poster: I walk her plenty, trust me but I do need to play more. I actually found out I was walking her too long, I love to walk. I just played with her outside, we played fetch, it’s hard to do without a fenced in yard, though, even though I trust her pretty well to not leave my sight at all. We also played tug.

My cats have gotten better with her, I have seen them be tolerant a couple times, but it might be a while until she is calm enough for them to like her.

The issue now is that the landlady wants her gone by Friday. I tried looking at other places to live and I see places that say two pets max, and I already have 2 cats. I anticipated this issue of course being a renter, but my ex and I had 4 cats and a dog and no problems at this place so I thought I’d be okay. :/. I don’t really know of anyone that can watch her either if I were to move, if I could even find a place for us.
posted by anon1129 at 1:40 PM on June 27, 2022

I don't know what state you're in, but it's very unlikely that your landlord can evict you for not having the dog out in four days. She is not the boss of you. If you decide to rehome (and there's no shame in realizing that you can't handle a puppy with your current schedule; they are very demanding; just don't make the same mistake again!), tell her politely but firmly that that is what you are doing, but it's going to take a little while. Unless you are in an extremely precarious position where you can't afford to move next May (which it doesn't sound like), the heavens are not going to open up and rain fire on you on her command. Maybe you should've checked with her first, but obviously she allowed (multiple!) pets in the past, and in fact your lease may say something to that effect ( you should read it carefully), so it wasn't wildly unreasonable for you to go ahead.

There is some stigma attached to rehoming, and it is irresponsible to carelessly pick up a dog or cat without planning how you will look after them, but plenty of people go into the adoption process in good faith, only to find out that for some reason the pet's needs are incompatible with their own. You didn't realize how much harder it would be to look after a dog without your ex-bf. That's a mistake, but not a shameful one. With a puppy in particular, if you're overwhelmed, better to rehome early before they develop bad habits/miss out on key socialization periods.
posted by praemunire at 1:55 PM on June 27, 2022 [2 favorites]

Maybe you could call some local dog rescues and see if they have suggestions for a back-up if you can't find a new home by Friday. I'd also talk to the landlady on Thursday if you haven't found a place, tell her all the things you are doing and ask for an extension.
posted by hungrytiger at 1:59 PM on June 27, 2022

Response by poster: I’m in Missouri, I’m not sure the laws. But my lease ended May 31st and she hasn’t given me another one to sign, she forgets or doesn’t care, so technically I’m not even on a lease. And the lease does say that she was only signing off on the particular dog we had and 2 cats (then 4 cats).

I took care of my boyfriend’s dog great, I loved walking her, took her out, and inside she would sleep or squeak her toy, she was a very low maintenance dog. We had an amazing bond, she loved me lots, would follow me and lay by me always, while I worked she would just sleep next to my chair. I got used to a calm dog. I just think I am incompatible with a high energy puppy and dog, I need a laid back one, and I don’t think she will be one, I don’t know though. I took care of her more than my boyfriend actually since I worked from home. I even made her dog food, would buy her treats and toys and scarfs all the time… I know I can care for a dog but I guess a puppy is just too much.

True that I should rehome ASAP so she can learn good behaviors. She is a good puppy, probably typical.
posted by anon1129 at 2:05 PM on June 27, 2022

Best answer: I would suggest strongly that you call the rescue you got the dog from: you may have signed a contract committing to returning the dog to them before you rehome it another way.
posted by suelac at 2:07 PM on June 27, 2022 [6 favorites]

Best answer: We had an amazing bond, she loved me lots, would follow me and lay by me always, while I worked she would just sleep next to my chair.

I just want to say that it's completely understandable that you would want to bring another dog into your life after this. A puppy may not have been the best match. But it wasn't stupid/impulsive/foolish/whatever to want another dog and to think, with your experience, that you'd be up to it. So don't beat yourself up over it.
posted by praemunire at 2:19 PM on June 27, 2022 [1 favorite]

If you decide to move and keep the dog obedience class should do wonders….. but you need to sign her up and take her ASAP! This is why untrained dogs end up in shelters. You can turn this around but you need to do the work. With that said, if you put her the time and energy you need to train her (and find a better living situation) I’m sure she will turn into a wonderful pet and one of your very best friends. Puppies are just HARD and so much work. Good luck!
posted by Amy93 at 2:40 PM on June 27, 2022


You should not be trying to rehome this puppy or investigate new owners yourself. If the place is reputable, your adoption agreement likely requires you to return the dog to them rather than selling or re-homing her. But even if it's not required, it's much, much better for the dog than you trying to find her a new home on your own in just a few days.
posted by decathecting at 2:56 PM on June 27, 2022 [2 favorites]

Best answer: As part of a 3-dog household, I agree with all the advice offered. You need to do what's best for you and for the puppy, and everyone else can sort themselves out. (It sounds like you're "should have"-ing yourself pretty badly, it's OK to take your finger off that button. None of us is perfect, and wisdom is earned which means it's usually most clear in hindsight. And if I learn from my mistakes, I know they have value.)

Your landlord can't force this by Friday, for sure, so take a breath about timeline.

If it helps, our third, completely amazing pup is a Heeler mix (also a really high energy herding breed) and we adopted her from a recently-divorced person who lived in an apartment and worked ~8-10 hours away from home most days, and who realized that he wasn't able to adequately provide what this really wonderful dog needed. His heartbreak has been our joy, though, and he definitely did right by this dog, who now has access to a big, fenced backyard, two other dogs to dog around with, and whom we love more than most people.
posted by LooseFilter at 3:05 PM on June 27, 2022

Best answer: So, puppies are babies. They do not know what is appropriate or inappropriate, they have limited fine motor skills, and limited emotional control. It is the job of the adults (ie you) to teach them the skills they need to thrive in the world. So the puppy bites? It is your job to tech bite inhibition. Too rough with the cats? You need to teach polite play. Can't settle, nervous, aggressive, barking, cowering, hyper? Your job, your job, your job, YOUR. JOB.

Look, you weren't prepared for a puppy. That's fine, a lot of people aren't. The question now is: are you going to be able to step up and be a good teacher for this kiddo, or not? It sucks to have to rehome a dog, but what sucks worse is to neglect your responsibility to teach this dog good life skills so that she gets run over in the street when she some day slips her lead or euthanized because she never learned how to interact safely with other animals or people. So many dogs in rescues (and omg, so many Australian Shepherds) are there because their original owners couldn't handle them--and the ones that are really hard to rehome? Are the ones where the owners couldn't accept that the puppy was more than they could handle and now at two or three have huge emotional and social problems that will take years of careful training to overcome.

The good news is that at 5 months this puppy is still very adoptable and still in a flexible, learning stage. Call the place you got her from and be frank with them that you think you can't meet her needs. If they can't take her back, Aussie specific rescues will often take any dog that is even remotely Aussie-like.

And--please don't beat yourself up about this too much. You tried something, it didn't work out like you thought, and you're gonna fix it. Now you know something more about dogs, and about yourself, and about how you can (or can't) fit dogs in your life. In dog training, I'd call this an unplanned opportunity for growth.
posted by radiogreentea at 3:33 PM on June 27, 2022 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Don’t beat yourself up about this too much, as long as you find a good new home for her.

We got our current dog as a 5 month old puppy because the family that originally had him realized they could not care for their two small children and a puppy at the same time. Personally, I think they were being responsible to rehome him rather than keep him and ignore/neglect his needs.

He is a high energy breed, and after we got him I was like, uh, is this normal?? Our old dog who had passed away the year before was the same breed, but, well, he was old, and calm. I never really knew him when he was a puppy so I had no frame of reference. Puppies are A LOT of work. As someone said above, they are babies and need a lot of care and attention and training. High energy dogs like Australian shepherds are even more work.

If you rehome her, this dog can live with people who can handle a puppy and will give her a great life. If that family hadn’t decided to rehome the dog we ended up with, we would never have had him, and I am really happy that they did. I think it worked out really well for them, for us, and for our dog!
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 11:06 PM on June 27, 2022

Yes, please call your adoption center, they are very used to this and will have the best advice on how to rehome her - most places do require you to bring them back to their group.

I promise that they just want to help, please call them today.
posted by winna at 8:37 AM on June 28, 2022 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Update: I checked my paperwork (also tried to call several times but it went to voicemail), and it stated that if I decided to rehome her, it was encouraged to do so with a family member or friend, and if I couldn't, to take her back to the shelter I got her from. Well, the man I am seeing lives on his family crop farm on over 300 acres, with his parents and brother (he is paying off some debt right now), and they have an older shepherd/border collie, and two cats, and have had many dogs over the years. He is attached to my puppy and after thinking about it, said he would like to take her to their farm, and thinks she would have a very loving home and a very happy life there. He is going to check with his parents to make sure everyone is okay with it but said he doesn't think there will be any issues. So, hopefully they are all happy to have her there. If not, I will take her back to the shelter.
posted by anon1129 at 9:36 AM on June 28, 2022 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Final update: they are happy to have her on the farm. I truly think it is one of the best lives she could have and much better than a life I could realistically provide her. I really didn’t know better before I brought her home, I was so used to my ex’s completely happy dog in our duplex, and this was stated to be the same breeds that she was, a lab retriever mix, but she doesn’t look like either of those, really has mostly shepherd. I am so happy for my baby girl, she is going to be a farm pup and I think she’ll be so so happy with her new family. A puppy was too much for me, renting, single, and working full time and not completely stable. I learned my lesson and will not be getting another dog until/unless my situation completely changes. I feel very sorry for all the damage I’ve done, but I only had her under 2 months, and she has the rest of her life to be happy in her new life. I will miss her so much but he said I can visit her anytime. Thank you to everyone for your advice.

Here is a link to pictures of my beautiful girl:
posted by anon1129 at 8:04 AM on June 29, 2022 [6 favorites]

Response by poster: Also wanted to add, I in no way asked him to do this, take her. I talk to him daily and told him that I was calling the shelter the next day. He texted me early the next morning and said he would like to have her. My mom had suggested before that maybe he could take her to the farm, but I did not want to ask, I wanted it to be his idea, if it was something he wanted to do on his own. His family loves dogs and this man is a really good man, and I can see her anytime, I know she’s in good hands.
posted by anon1129 at 9:34 AM on June 29, 2022 [1 favorite]

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